The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has decided against offering emergency relief to plaintiffs challenging New York’s latest gun sales restrictions.
A group of New York gun dealers was unable to convince four justices to take up their case against new restrictions on selling firearms and ammunition. They wanted the High Court to consider bypassing the Second Circuit and block the implementation of the state’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), warning it could cause their businesses to shut down. On Wednesday, the Court decided not to act without offering an explanation.
“The application for writ of injunction presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is denied,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion about Gazzola v. Hochul.
The decision not to get involved at the early stage of the case against the CCIA’s ammunition restrictions and new dealer security and record-keeping requirements is the second in as many weeks not to weigh in on the law. SCOTUS turned away a similar emergency request in Antonyuk v. Nigrelli, which challenges the CCIA’s expansive gun-carry restrictions. The decisions show the Court is currently unwilling to intervene in the early stages of litigation over the law New York passed in response to its Bruen decision, which struck down the state’s previous gun-carry law as unconstitutional.
While it doesn’t necessarily indicate the Court won’t eventually get involved in challenges to the law, the lack of action has frustrated some gun-rights advocates who had been reinvigorated by the Bruen ruling. Paloma Capanna, a lawyer for the Gazzola plaintiffs, said the decision not to intervene will be costly for New York gun owners.
“We are disappointed that not one of the nine justices saw fit to grant the plaintiffs some stay of enforcement of the new laws against them,” he told Fox News Digital. “We are challenging the ability of the state of New York to target dealers in firearms in the lawful stream of commerce, to put them out of business, which is what the new laws will do. So it really was unfortunate to see that we couldn’t get any emergency temporary injunction against those laws.”
Attorney General Letitia James (D.) celebrated the ruling. She argued the provisions challenged by Gazzola save lives.
“Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to allow our state’s gun safety laws to remain in effect,” she said in a statement. “We know that gun safety laws help save lives, and keep our state safer. My office will continue to work tirelessly to stand up for New York’s gun safety laws and we will use every tool at our disposal to protect New Yorkers.”
While SCOTUS has yet to take up a case against the CCIA, some justices have provided insight into how they are thinking about the law. In the opinion denying the emergency motion to intervene in Antonyuk, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas wrote a concurrence effectively warning the Second Circuit to move quickly on the case.
“I understand the Court’s denial today to reflect respect for the Second Circuit’s procedures in managing its own docket, rather than expressing any view on the merits of the case,” Alito wrote in Antonyuk v. Nigrelli. “Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the Second Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of the appeal.”
Alito and Thomas noted the case involves novel concerns it hasn’t considered before, implying the Court may want to see lower courts develop a full record before it ultimately gets involved.
“The New York law at issue in this application presents novel and serious questions under both the First and the Second Amendments,” Alito wrote. “The District Court found, in a thorough opinion, that the applicants were likely to succeed on a number of their claims, and it issued a preliminary injunction as to twelve provisions of the challenged law.”
Whatever the justices think of the law or what they eventually decide, their decision not to intervene at this early stage of the litigation means most of the CCIA will remain in effect. While multiple federal district judges have found wide swaths of the law unconstitutional, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has issued stays on nearly every aspect of those injunctions.